The best way to ensure you can cross the United States/Canada border during COVID would be to make sure you are fully vaccinated to avoid any trouble or delays. At the start of 2022, DHS stated that all non-U.S. individuals seeking to enter the United States through land ports of entry and ferry terminals at the U.S.-Canada borders must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and provide related proof of vaccination. However, if you are not vaccinated or getting fully vaccinated is not an option for you, there is a chance you may still be eligible to cross the border or apply for a visa, but there are limited exemptions and some additional rules you will need to follow.
Can I Still Apply for a US Visa If I Am Not Fully Vaccinated?
A universal waiver of the COVID-19 immunization may apply in specific circumstances, which means applicants in the following scenarios are not needed to show they had the COVID-19 vaccine(s):
- Applicants who are younger than the minimum age restriction (now less than 12 years old) for the specific formulations in use in their jurisdiction
- Applicants who have a documented contraindication or precaution to administering the COVID-19 vaccine formulation
- It is not often accessible. If no COVID-19 vaccine is routinely accessible in the place where the civil surgeon operates, or if the vaccine is available but in short supply, receiving the inoculation would be significantly delayed.
- Convictions based on religion or morality. Applicants with religious or moral beliefs may obtain a vaccine waiver by filing a waiver request to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS, not the civil surgeon or the CDC, will decide whether this sort of waiver is granted.
If an applicant declines the COVID-19 immunization, the examining physician will write that the vaccine criteria are not met and that the applicant denies vaccination. Such candidates are inadmissible to the United States and hence ineligible for a green card/immigrant visa.
In view of this vaccination requirement, green card and immigrant visa applicants should plan ahead of time to complete the whole immunization series in order to minimize delays. Finally, applicants who qualify for one of the blanket waivers should have their paperwork ready ahead of time in order to speed up the procedure. It is unknown how long the COVID-19 vaccine(s) will be necessary, but for the time being, early preparedness is critical.
Can I Still Apply for a Canadian Visa If I Am Not Fully Vaccinated?
Since January 15, 2022, all travelers to Canada whether immigrating or visiting must be fully vaccinated to enter, unless exempt. Those who are exempt only include a small list of people:
- Those with pre-existing conditions (such as a history of Myocarditis prior to initiating an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine series, or a history of severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis to any component of a COVID19 vaccine).
- Contraindications to initiating an AstraZeneca or Janssen COVID-19 vaccine series
- Adverse events following immunization (AEFI) with COVID-19 vaccine
- Human rights exemptions. Most requests for human rights-based exemptions from mandatory vaccination will be based on creed. Under the Code, creed can include religious beliefs and non-religious belief systems that resemble religion.
- Some agriculture and food process workers
- Certain new permanent residents
- Marine crew members
Keep in mind, it is required that medical exemption requests must be supported with documentation from a specialist physician.
Foreign nationals who are not completely vaccinated may also be allowed to enter Canada if they get a national interest exemption from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, or the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. The national interest exception is only meant to be utilized in extraordinary circumstances. As such, it is not intended to be a workaround in circumstances when a more appropriate exemption cannot be obtained.
Do You Need Help Making Sure You Have the Right Documents and Proof of Vaccination Before Crossing the Border?
If so, Contact VisaPlace today. All our cases are handled by competent and experienced immigration professionals who are affiliated with VisaPlace. These professionals consist of lawyers, licensed paralegals, and consultants who work for VisaPlace Legal an award-winning immigration firm that adheres to the highest standards of client service.
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